Legends of Moonsong City

The End?
How Arabella got her Nicholas back...

Arabella soared towards the portal that hung like a low stormcloud over the remnants of the hideous altar. Coming to a stop, she hovered in mid air. Quickly, she took stock of the battlefield below.
Tifa’s small form lay curled and unmoving among several dead skeletons. Arabella’s curse was nearly a sob. Her small friend’s eyes stared silently up at her. Tifa had bled out. Arabella flinched as an explosion blew out the wall of ice covering the door at the back of the room. At least Maximus, the chosen one and the one she had to thank for this fly spell, was OK. Below her, the rhino was recovering. The druid would live, too. That was something anyway. In the center of the room, Kilhgarrah and Arnie had Tinan cornered near where Birgitte had fallen. Arabella started forward, she seemed determined to finish what Sven’s mother had started.
Before she could move, Nyssa loosed three arrows in quick succession from behind the lich. The first spun Tinan around, staggering him to the left and clearing space between Arnie and Kilhgarrah so her next two shots were free and clear. Nyssa’s second arrow tore through Tinan’s throat and her last embedded itself deep into his left eye. His body jerked from the impacts, then crumpled to the ground at Arnie’s feet. Done.
Tinan’s gear forged giants were not however. They closed quickly on Arnie and Kilhgarrah. I ducked my head back into Arabella’s sleeve, not sure I wanted to look. That would be a near thing I suspected.
“A soul to open it…a soul to close it,” Arabella whispered. I opened my eyes and uncoiled a bit from her forearm so I could see her face. She was gazing up at the portal. Despite the Lich’s death, it remained stubbornly open. Thick, inky black magical power roiled in mid air with the faltering spark shining within it. Interrupting the ritual, killing the lich, none of it had forced the portal to close. Though Arabella and I no longer shared our thoughts, I recognized the look in her eyes.
Arabella swore and swept the corpse-strewn floor with her gaze again. “I could really use a cigarette…”, she murmured. She caught the druid’s gaze and grinned a little crookedly. Her eyes started to shine, tears reflecting the small spark within the portal. A wave of courage suddenly washed over me and I heard the distinct roar of a dragon.
“Make sure to take care of these…” Arabella called down to the druid. She held up the mace and shield. “I’m going to put an end to this.”
She took a deep, trembling breath. “And say goodbye to my family for me…all of them”, she added looking once more around the room to take in the remaining Horde of Morons.
She let the mace and shield drop from her hands and started to fly upwards. As the mace fell something snapped back into place suddenly and I was no longer alone. She was back in my head…
Arnie and I understood what she was doing at the same instant.
“No!”, he yelled, leaping towards her, his orange robes flapping with the speed of his launch. Fast as he was, not fast enough.
“No!” I yelled from my vantage point on her arm. My yell got her attention at least, though it did not slow her acceleration towards the portal.
“Nicholas?”, she breathed. For a second, she was happy. “Good to have you back…”, she thought to me as we hurtled into the portal. “Sorry about the circumstances…”
I took quick stock of things and made an even quicker decision. “Don’t worry kiddo,” I replied to her fiercely as we were engulfed by the portal. “One soul to open it, one to close it. I got this one…”

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A Saving Grace

Another day, another boring battle, I thought to myself as I looked out over the corpse-strewn battlefield. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to do during the battles, it’s just that it was the same thing over and over again. “Max, help me! I have a big hole in my chest.” Or my favorite. “Max, heal all of us, were feeling a little woozy.”

Whenever I got really bored in battle I’d whip out my gleaming mace of destruction and wade into battle. There were only two outcomes to this approach. The first was, faced with a snarling nasty terror that deserved the righteous smiting of Bahamut, I would miss horribly. Sometimes I would miss so bad I’d pull a muscle in my lower back (the mace was kind of heavy). The second thing that would happen is that everyone would dive in front of me (they called it “saving me”) and I would be back where I’d began. Behind everyone. Healing everyone.

An alarm went up, breaking my up my pity party, as a creature made a break for the portal followed by Arnie, Arabella, and Tifa. Maybe I’ll hit something, I deluded myself, as I caught up with the pursuit. Before we’d had a chance to discuss that it was a stupid idea to go through the rift, we were already through it (Horde of Moron’s indeed) and into some mad man’s idea of a giant machine. The rhythm of combat began as weird mechanical Kobold’s attacked from all directions. A Lich, which is what we’d been chasing, was pulling levers and pushing buttons of the monster machine when it happened. The mace, which I kept around mostly for show, felt dead in my hands. At first, I thought that one of my pathetic attempts to smite evil had finally gone so badly that I’d broken the mace but my spells were dead too. In fact, the feeling of my close personal relationship with Bahamut was also gone. The change was so sudden and so complete that I mostly just stood there looking into space. I was safe, because as usual, everyone was protecting me.

After a few moments, Arabella came up to me and asked for my mace and shield. These I gave up willing because it seemed like the right thing to do. Arabella handed me a satchel of scrolls and pearls that I instantly understood what they did and what they were for. Power and knowledge coursed through me, not the gentle peaceful power of a caring Bahamut, but a wild chaotic power that wanted to destroy. I’m not sure how, but I harnessed the power and started to direct it at my foes. This time, nobody stepped in front of me, if anything they moved away from me.

As the Lich sank into the cracks of the floor, he chuckled “I was the only one that could change you back.” I wanted to scream in joy “I don’t care”.

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Interlude while protecting the rift
otherwise known as "freaky Friday"

Arnie, Tifa, Max and Arabella raced after the creature…straight into the rift. Only Max, Tifa and I seemed to hesitate at all at that border…go figure. As we touched the rift, time and space seemed to waver and the next thing I knew we were in some kind of room…

After an awkward bit of diplomacy with the lich – for that sure is what he looked like to me – it became pretty clear that he was insane. The whole room appeared to be the inside of some kind of huge machine, though it’s purpose was unknowable. I’m not sure which of them annoyed the lich first, but it probably didn’t really matter. Any one of them would have eventually. At any rate, squads of what seemed to be clockwork kobolds were closing in on us now while others kept Arnie and Tifa away from their master. I hissed a warning to Arabella – she’d better get us out of here or be ready to engage in combat. Arabella grinned grimly at me and I tightened my grip on her arm. I felt her take a breath, step back and fling a couple of spells. Rocks and dirt fell from the ceiling, burying several kobolds. I saw Max pull out his mace and gather himself to join Arnie in the fight. As he did so, he suddenly froze, his eyes widening in surprise. “Uh oh”, I thought. “Something’s up.”
Arabella began to concentrate again, beginning the motions to cast another spell, when…“HEY!” I yelled. Something inside my head snapped. I tried to scream, but all that came out was a long hiss. She was gone…well, I could still feel her arm, coiled around it as I was, but in my head…nothing. For the first time in a long time, I was alone.
-——————-
Arabella gasped. The tiny, cold knot of calculating calmness that was Nicholas was gone from her mind. She looked down at the snake coiled around her arm and hissing loudly. No feeling…nothing. She ducked quickly as several mechanical kobolds tried to take her head off. Have to deal with that later…for now…

She tried again to start her spell. Something was wrong. There was magic there, but not the magic she knew. Somehow it was different. She hesitated, confused. Then Arnie took another brutal hit from a swarm of half-mechanized dog creatures. Crap. He wouldn’t be able to take much more of that. She looked for Max, time for him to get to work. She found him standing to the side, staring at his mace like he’d never seen it before…more so than usual anyway. He looked as confused as she felt. They locked gazes across the battlefield and a sudden understanding dawned on them simultaneously.

Tifa shrieked as another swarm of kobolds overwhelmed her best efforts to fend them off.

“Frack, Frack, Frack.” Arabella cursed under her breath. “I’m not losing any more of these morons…especially not one of the little ones.” As she concentrated on this she heard the roar of a huge dragon and magic power poured out from her – a nimbus of platinum light exploding from her in all directions. Tifa and Arnie were caught in its blast and gasped as it reinvigorated them, closing their wounds. OK…not really sure what the hell that was, she thought, but I can roll with it. She shouted at Max as she ran towards him. “Give me the mace! And the shield!”

Max didn’t hesitate, tossing her the weapon and quickly turning to unbuckle the dwarven-made shield from his arm. The mace fell neatly into Arabella’s hand. It felt right. She had a thought, and pulled something from her handy haversack as she waited for Max to free his arm from the loosened shield straps. “Here, take these”, she said, handing him her scroll cases. “I bet they’ll come in handy…”

Slipping her arm into the shield’s leather straps, the hefted the mace and started towards the thick of the fight. After less than a step, the mace in her hand became a dead weight, nearly causing her to drop it. Feelings of doubt washed over her, coupled with visions of a huge platinum dragon roaring a challenge at her. Uh oh…her mind raced. Seems like this thing has a bit of a mind of its own. It must want assurances. She really didn’t have time for a theological discussion right now. Luckily, she knew a thing or two about dealing with this. Concentrating, she sent her strongest assurance to the weapon…“Yes…Bahamut is my lord…now lets protect our friends!”

It worked and she nearly stumbled as the mace leapt forward dragging her towards Arnie and Tifa….

Minutes later, she and Arnie and Tifa and Max (who’d demonstrated some new magical abilities of his own, even though hampered by his chainmail) stood in the midst of the dead clockwork kobolds and watched the lich’s spirit drain away through cracks in the room’s floor. The evil creature was vanquished for now, thanks largely to Arnie and Tifa, both of whom had nearly died several times. Arabella was still a little amazed at the power she’d been able to channel during the fight. More than once she’d reached out to heal Arnie so that he could continue pummeling his way through their foes. Thanks to the mace, she’d even made him immune to the lichs’ fire shield spell ensuring that he did not incinerate himself beating the lich into submission. Max seemed equally amazed – his spell casting having taken on quite a different cast itself.

“We need to get back”, Arabella reminded them once they’d all caught their breath. “The others cannot hold the right on their own. We need to help protect it.” Fiddling with the controls on the lich’s machine, Arabella, figured out how to re-tune it so that they could return to the dungeons under Moonsong. She wasn’t sure that things would ever be the same again. The sad, blank look from NIcholas, still gamely wrapped around her arm, bore witness to that. But, they were still needed. Arnie, TIfa and Max gathered close. Arabella gripped the mace tightly, took a deep breath and activated the machine…

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Sometimes the Fight Picks You

The heroes continued to mourn the loss of Sven. Milo began to hear tales of a small girl who had been asking his street urchins about him. Sensing a trap, Milo began to search out this little girl as she seemed unwilling to come to him.

After encountering the girl on a street late at night, he immediately sensed that something was amiss. The girl had a demonic visage, and attempted to get him to chase. Not falling for that trap, Milo instead gathered his friends to see if he could again encounter the demonic girl.

Success led to Arnie charging into a bar crowded with people, enchanted both with and by a human female singer. The girl was somewhere within. Arnie swam the crowd towards the singer, feeling something was amiss. He was strong enough to push his way through, but the crowd was also tight, and he didn’t wish to harm them.

Until the singer placed her gaze on him and attempted a magical attack of some sort. Arnie, enraged, began to charge the stage. The crowd, either unwilling or not noticing the initial attack, immediately turned on Arnie, as he attempted to get to her. “Save ”/characters/helen" class=“wiki-content-link”>Helen!" the crowd roared out, and Arnie found himself now surrounded by a sea of innocent people who didn’t fully understand the circumstance.

It didn’t get better. The girl had reappeared in the crowd, and smashed a small wooden box. Out of the box, sprang a number of shadows. The undead looked hungrily on the crowd, as the shadow demon leaped out of the previous controlled little girls body and attempted to possess Arnie. By the grace of the gods, the giant man who could slay handfuls of people with his bare hands was not taken by the demon, and a battle ensued instead. A few members of the crowd were killed by the shadows and rose quickly as additional shadows, but Maximus was able to contain and destroy most of the foul undead.

The last standoff occurred between the party and Arnie. He wished to end the witch’s life, but was eventually persuaded to stand down.

The party tracked down the shadow demon, heading into the undercity to seek it out. In a close battle, they were able to defeat the shadow demon, although not without cost. Tifa, rent by the shadow demon’s lust for blood, was consumed by the shadow and rose again as an undead. Luckily, the party was able to subdue this perverted form of Tifa, and headed back to the surface to attempt to restore her to life.

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A Safe Spot Exposed

The heroes stepped through the portal opened by Axiomus the Magus. Within the halls smelled of dust that had laid dormant for centuries. Within the still halls, nothing moved. At least until our heroes came down the halls.

Within the still rooms, humanoids began to shuffle. Crystals embedded in their chests and foreheads flared to life and they started to shuffle down the still passageways towards the heroes.


When the battle had ended, the crystal soldiers laid strew about. A shadow demon had been dispatched. But not before he had told them of the horror that is the crystal soldiers. They were once men. Embedded with the crystals, they had their bodies slowly taken over by whatever malignant force controlled the crystals. Driven slowly mad as their spirits are consumed, slowly, over an eternity as a slave to the crystal and refashioned into an essentially a mechanical man.

The shadow demon suggested that they had the way to create more, and to create more was the path to the power that they sought.

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Death of Sven
The Rise of Tondemo Sanshe

It was a sad evening at the Drunken Priest.

Tifa was dead. Sven was gone, not even the priests of Balamut could call him back. They said his spirit did not want to return, so no amount of mortal divine magic could force him to give up his reward and return to them.

What had gone so wrong…

They had heard that the Azure Dragoons had lost the arcane rift that had been discovered. Determined to help regain control of that rift, they headed down with such confidence. Even when they discovered a lone survivor, panicked and terrified at what he had seen, they still pressed on. While they had been able to handle the initial guards, they were not ready for Tondemo Sanshe. The armored skeletal man had easy brushed aside their strongest attacks, and laid them low.

Now, whatever activity Tondemo had been sent to safeguard, continued. The men they had saved in the attack were under the care of the Dragoons. At least they had saved them. Tifa’s divine magic restoration had been a success.

All in all, it tasted bittersweet.

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Arabella's Interlude

You’ve been quietly studying while the group plays rescue the dirt poor farmers. Glad to not have been on that trip with it’s spoils of copper pieces, instead you’ve been studying the arcane arts while you’ve got access to the libraries and laboratories of the Dragoons.

After a couple of days, you begin to notice that something is a little off. Not sure what it is right away, you make the decision to quietly watch and more importantly listen to the various conversations in the Azure Dragoons abodes. Nicholas works as a fine spy in these sorts of circumstances where some vermin are always expected and most expect a snake or a cat to be there to ward off mice and rats.

It would seem that the Azure Dragoons have lost control of the arcane rift. They had paid a fortune for the information about where it was, and supposedly had secured it some weeks ago. But now there was talk of an expedition to go and take it back.

That didn’t seem to overly bother you. You figured it was just the bugbear/goblins working back to the rift to get another chance at creating more abominations like before. They would figure that out, how bad could goblins be.

But then Nicholas started hearing another phrase being repeated in these halls that you hadn’t heard before here. “Praise Erathis”

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Max's Interlude

Max:

You have been personally summoned by Heran, the chief priest of Bahamut to the temple. This is unusual at best, and unnerving at worst. You understand your duty is to serve Bahamut and his chosen embassies here on earth, so you proceed to the temple as quickly as possible.

On arriving at the temple, you can see that some of the more highly placed clerics are looking at you with contempt, from some, even jealously. This is unusual. Normally they dismissed you as a bouffon, but now they seem genuinely threatened by you.

Heran arrives in the temple, and as required, all turn to him and bow lowly. He looks shaken, maybe even a little ashen, but he wastes no time dismissing most of the guard and the clerics that were in the main temple chamber. When they have been cleared and the doors closed, you are brought through a non-descript door that had previously been off limits to you. Deep within the temple, you are led to a small chapel, ordained in precious metals, religious artifacts, and holy writing. There is a haze to the room as pungent incense burns from a number of braziers. Within this sanctuary, you can hear the low murmur of the prayers in the courtyard above, although there are no visible windows or openings for the sound to come in from.

Heran dismiss even his personal guard now, telling them that he is perfectly safe, and that they may reopen the temple above. Once they have left, the heavy doors pulled shut, and their footfalls are no longer audible down the corridor you came, Heran begins to tell you that you have not been the only one who foresaw great things for you.

When you had entered the temple to present yourself to the clerics to study, serve, and learn, the dreams and messages from Bahamut had begun. Heran tells you that he has been comforted by dreams of your great glory; where you stood as a paragon to justice, leading the humans of this region to great heights of civilization and brotherhood. But he has also been haunted by the nightmares of what would happen should you fail. The anguished cries of the devoted to Bahamut, chanting in course and empty voices; “Praise Bahamut”.

For some time Heran goes on, recounting many dreams of your glory. Defeat of the goblinoids to the east, the replenishment of the great crystal desolation, Moonsong City built into a gleaming city of silver and gold, dragons flashing in the sky above dipping their wings in deference to your great wisdom.

For each of these dreams of glory however, there is also a twisted nightmare of despair. The city laid to waste, a vast necropolis where the undead cultivate humans to have their spirits drained and destroyed, their flesh devoured as they cry hopelessly and woodenly to an uncaring god to save them.

Heran falls to his knees and begs your forgiveness, so that he may be made whole with both you and your god. He explains that while you have always thought that you were destined for great things, he had harbored his doubts as had his most close advisors. He had watched you from afar and was troubled by your follies and missteps. When you required a powerful magic to have your soul restored to your body, this reinforced his belief that he had read the signs of your pivotal role wrong. But he had clearly misjudged you, and in so doing had sinned against Bahamut.

Clearly, he sobs, you were always meant to wield Lendyi’s Wisdom.

Your breath quickens at the mention of a magical artifact that is something that the religious of your order have whispered about, but it’s existence or purpose was something that had been a closely guarded secret.

He takes up a heavy tapestry and reveals a polished wood chest. Mummering some magical words over the chest, he then opens it, revealing within the nondescript mace. A hardened spiked ball of dull metal, connected to an equally dull metal shaft. It’s handle was worn, leather wrapped around it tightly. The leather was old, but very well maintained. Heran hands it to you reverently.

“This mace, Max, it has called to me to give it to you since you first took orders. It has been passed down in the order of Bahamut for many centuries, even though the time of Glimmer, from the ancient temples of Bahamut in the Crystal Kingdom. Into your hands, I pass this treasure, so that you may use it as you see fit, in the service of Bahamut, the great, the mighty, the wise, the just. May you use it well.”

Lendyi’s Wisdom (Mace +2 of Disruption)
Communication: Empathy
Alignment: Lawful Good
Any undead creature with HD equal to or less than the wielder’s level must succeed on a Will save (5th level Cleric Spell) or be destroyed utterly if struck in combat with this weapon. Spell resistance does not apply against the destruction effect.
Spell Immunity 1/day as a standard action
Continual Light on command, centered on the mace as a free action
Can cast Protection from Evil at wielder’s level 3/day as a free action

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Milo Mission

Mid afternoon a cleric of Bahamut has arrived at the Drunken Priest to seek you out. It is unusual for one of the clerics to come himself, they would not normally leave the temple, but would have instead sent a lackey. His armor is shining, and his regal bearing looks out of place in the squalid ale house, but inwardly you smile because he reminds you, at least on the surface, of your companion Max’s bluster.

His eyes take a minute to adjust to the dim light and smoke in the alehouse compared to the brilliant sunlight outside. But soon enough he notices you and strides purposefully towards you. You quickly get to your feet, if your order could somehow be of service well then, you’d best give a good accounting of yourself you think.

“Master Milo, I presume?” the cleric asks in a clear voice. Without waiting for you to confirm his assertion, he continues; “I wonder if I might talk with you somewhere more private?”

Finding a room quickly isn’t a problem for you anymore, the patrons of this alehouse will quickly make space for you. They may not always be so enamored with your companions and the trouble that seems to find them, but your kindness to the helpless and your patience with the unworthy has made you a popular fellow here.

“Master Milo. I am here at the request of Heran, our chief priest, and conduit to our lord and god Bahamut.” The cleric starts. You wonder if he might even introduce himself, or if that wasn’t part of his instruction. “I am to ask you to take special care of your companion Max.”

Okay, that was different you think to yourself. Suddenly, those guys like Max? Luckily, you don’t often wear your emotions on your face, so your surprise, you hope, isn’t evident. The cleric continues. “Heran himself has received signs that Max is pivotal to our lord and god Bahamut’s mercy and justice continuing to bless our people. Since it is known that you are a righteous man, bound by duty, it is being asked of you to protect Max until such time as this glory is revealed. This protection may and should be rendered up to and including death, should it be required.”

He pauses to let that sink in.

“Master Milo, will you be able to take this burden and perform to the utmost of your abilities, this service to your lord and god Bahamut?”

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Interude

Arnie spends most of his time at the bar. Let that apparition that Milo says is following me around deal with the fact that only one of them can get drunk. In the normal press of the pretty girls that liked to hang around him and drink with him and Sven, the ale flowed freely and there was a lot of very familiar physical affection. Tifa hung close, although it seemed more that she wanted to make sure that at least one of them was sober if trouble came up.

A good couple of ales in, when the world was a little woozy and warm, Tifa started pulling on Arnie’s arm. “Doesn’t it seem like these girls want to know an awful lot about us?” she said with some disquiet. “I don’t know that I like you answering all of these questions.”

“Hey!” shouted Sven. “Hey! She said they are writing a song about us. Get that Tifa? A SONG! Hell, I’ll tell them everything they want to hear if it’s a good song sung by … let’s see… that one. But only if she’s dancing at the same time…. C’mere you…..” Sven attempted to crawl over the table towards one particularly fetching young woman. She giggled and feinted disapproval.

Tifa sighed and turned back to Arnie. “Really? Can’t you see this is a bad idea?”

Arnie’s head heavily swung from side to side. “Nah, what are you worried about. I can punch whatever it is anyway.” He looked back down at his ale, then looked up excitedly. “Hey! Is me punching stuff in the song? It had better be!”

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